How It’s New York: This compilation CD was put together by Anita Daly, of Daly Communications, who is one of the New York Irish movers and shakers.
How It’s Irish: It’s Irish rock and some trad and classical, from Emma Kate Tobia to Damien Dempsey to Cherish the Ladies.
Advent has started; Hanukkah started last weekend and it’s been shopping season since November 23, the day after Thanksgiving. That’s why Santa arrives last in the Thanksgiving parade, after all.
There are a lot of great CDs out there to give and get. Here’s one of the best- stay tuned for more.
This review was first published in Irish Examiner USA, Dec. 11.
Together for Christmas: A Contemporary Celtic Christmas Collection
This compilation put out by Anita Daly, of Daly Communications, showcases the artists she represents.
But it’s a mistake to think of it as just a promo tool, although it does that too; some of the artists I knew, some I didn’t, and the way the ones I didn’t know are presented here encourages me to seek them out. [Check out Mike Farragher’s take on this great CD, too!)
|The Elders, just one of the great bands on the new ‘Together for Christmas’ CD|
The packaging with its Christmas ornaments with Celtic knots, and pictures of family photographs, lets you in that this will be a CD that’s both accessible and witty.
From its very first track “Christmas Day,” by The Elders, a group out of Kansas City, the CD establishes itself as an upbeat, exhilarating selection which would be, as Black 47’s Larry Kirwan says in the liner notes, “the glue that binds your holiday party, dinner or romantic moment together.”
The sequencing of the CD is really masterful, moving from mood to mood so seamlessly that it would be easy to let it play over and over again at your gathering. It’s an instant must, a wonderful combination of familiar and new, upbeat and mellow.
Ashley Davis’ “Nollaig Moon” is one of the best from her CD Songs of the Celtic Winterdreamy, peaceful, and gorgeous in her breathy delivery of a long-ago rendezvous.
Then the CD picks us up again with the grin-inducing joyous “Happy Christmas” from John Munnelly, and “Deck the Halls/Christmas Medley” from Cherish the Ladies – one of the CD’s few excursions into straight trad (if you don’t have the latest Cherish Christmas CD, A Star in the East, yet, what are you waiting for?). No matter how tired you are, when they go into their version of “Jingle Bells,” led on the accordion, you’ll have a smile on your face.
Then the segue into the bluesy, cool “Whiskey for Christmas” by Kyf Brewer of Barleyjuice brings us back into a rock and roll mode, with just a little bit of whistle to remind us that this is Irish.
|Emma Kate Tobia|
Then it’s Emma Kate Tobia’s pure soprano in “Walking in the Air,” a pretty, traditional-sounding song from the movie The Snowman-a daring juxtaposition that works.
The next two tracks do something similar, moving from the edgy bounce of Garrett Wall and Track Dogs’ “What Christmas Was Meant to Be,” to the Classical rendition of “Silent Night” by The Celtic Tenors, in English and in Irish, with uillean pipes as accompaniment.
Larry Kirwan and Ashley Davis take on John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” which is a fun pairing, with his edgy, angry voice, and her sweet purity.
He takes on the angrier verses; she takes on the hopeful notes. This track appears to be an original to the compilation.
“Santa See You Tonight” is a silly, bouncy number from Minneapolis based The Wild Colonial Bhoys, followed by a surprisingly spare “Oh Holy Night” by Damien Dempsey.
|The High Kings|
The CD concludes with a series of tracks that keep things in a party mood, with The High Kings relaxed, upbeat “Driving Home for Christmas,” and a cover of The Pretenders’ “2,000 Miles,” a song I’ve always felt to be sparkly and upbeat by Dave Browne and the Temple Bar Band featuring Clare Peelo, with a kind of Irish jig on the bridge, which is fun.
Emma Kate Tobia and George Murphy take on The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York,” beginning slowly and becoming upbeat quickly. And it has to be said, Emma Kate’s diction is more clear than you’re used to in this song.
New Yorker Tara O’Grady’s jazzy rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a sweet way to end the CD – mellow but not sleepy.
This is a great CD for those who love trad, those who love Irish rock, and those who love Christmas music.
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Copyright 2012 New York Irish Arts